The yoke, also known as the ‘riser,’ is the V-shaped section at the back of jeans, which give jeans their curved seat.
The deeper the V, the greater the curve. The cut of the yoke can range from a deep V or a shallow V to a straight yoke or yoke at all.
The yoke is a defining feature of jeans. Most other men’s trousers have no yoke. Instead, by using darts to taper in the waist, they achieve a similar result.
The history of the yoke
The original jean, know as ‘waist overalls,’ sat high on the wearer’s waist.
In order to make the jeans fit properly, the waist overall would feature a yoke that made the garment wider in the hips, yet cinched inwards towards the waist.
Today, most prefer to wear their jeans much lower; just above or directly on the hip. This change in style hasn’t made the yoke obsolete, though; we still find one on almost every pair of jeans.
Despite the move towards flatter yokes, some jeans still have a deep ‘V’ yoke, with it starting higher up the side seams and meeting at the central, back seam at a much steeper angle.
By altering the depth of the yoke, jeans makers can change the silhouette of the jeans itself, making the fit more square or curvier, and (almost) tailor fits to customers depending on their body shapes.
Jeans with a rounder top block will give a more flattering fit for wearers who are fuller in the hips whereas square top blocks fit slimmer profiles snugly.